In what appears to be an issue, purchases of movies from Google Play can only be played in 480p even if you bought the HD version. As reported by Android Police, the restriction appears to have begun in the middle of October.
Google has been working hard to improve its Play Movies offering over recent months. Most recently it improved the support for Samsung TVs by making it possible to watch HDR10+ movies.
Prior to this, it emerged that Google Play Movies on Android TV would get a redesign. Overall it was very well received with most finding the changes to be positive.
However, this restriction on the quality of Google Play Movies purchases appears to be a bit of a problem for the company. Until recently, one had no problem watching movies in full resolution, proving that is what you paid for. However, now things look to have changed.
Google restricts HD playback of purchased movies
Many individuals have reported this issue across multiple devices. It seems that there is no way to play movies above 480p with no more options being given.
One potential explanation to this is to link it to Covid-19 induced streaming limits. However, others seem to think that there is a more backend problem that needs resolving before this can be fixed.
YouTube’s support team believes it has found the source that has caused this issue. Claiming that it had to disable HD playback on the web due to a technical problem.
YouTube has offered no further explanation as to what this technical problem might be or what has caused it though=. The cap will get removed once the problem is fixed. However, unsurprisingly perhaps, no timeline has been offered as to when this may actually happen.
In the response from YouTube, it only mentioned movies and not TV shows explicitly. So it is not clear whether this cap applies to them as well but it could.
The only saving grace for users is that playback quality does not appear to be effected on other devices. It is only on the web that the problem has arisen so feel free to stream in HD from your mobile screens, Android TV, and Chromecast.
Hopefully, this issue will sort itself out fairly swiftly. However, the lack of detail on the problem and no commitment to a timeline suggests that it could be a bit of a wait.